In the following sentence:


, what does the mean?

I think the sentence reads He has four books, but I have three.

I also read the sentence like 我只需要一个叉子, though I cannot get what works for in the sentence.

Note that when I looked up in my dictionary, it says the following:

classifier for birds and certain animals, one of a pair, some utensils, vessels etc

So I don't get what it means. What does it function for?

4 Answers 4


In Simplified Chinese, 只 is polyphonic. In the sentence, 只 means only, pronounced zhǐ. The meaning you cited corresponds to another pronunciation, zhī, of the character.

  • Thanks. I knew Chinese is polyphonic, but my dictionary doesn't have the meaning in zhi section...
    – Blaszard
    Commented Nov 4, 2014 at 12:20
  • You don't have to emphasize "Simplified Chinese", because in traditional Chinese characters, it should also be written as 只 when it is pronounced zhǐ.
    – Victor
    Commented Nov 13, 2014 at 14:05
  • @Victor But it is not polyphonic in traditional Chinese, in which case OP would get the correct meaning from the dictionary.
    – user58955
    Commented Nov 13, 2014 at 14:56

That character can be both a measure word as described in your dictionary, or, when pronounced zhi3, it can mean only, or just. In this case, it is the second, which should make the meaning of your sentences quite apparent. :)


「只」means only or 'just'.

他有四本书,可是我有三本。He has four books, but I only have three.


1.仅; 例: 我只有三本书。 I only have three books. 我只爱你。 I love you only. 2.量词 例:我家有一只小狗。 There is a dog in my home. 一只猫:a cat 一只老虎:a tiger ……

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